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Old 07-14-2006, 10:22 AM   #1
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1996 25' Excella
southern , Illinois
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 36
starting from scratch~moho vs. trailer?

We're in the process of selling our current tow vehicle & we just took a check for our little Aliner pop-up.. so... we'll be down to a toyota corolla & some cash.
we've been looking for a truck/van and a travel trailer but a motorhome is really starting to appeal to me. The older rounded/aluminum models are really attractive, IMO.
We could tow our corolla & ride together. That would just be one engine to gas & a fuel efficient vehicle when we get to where we're going. We'd also be able to pick up & go easier, in theory... and if we were to stop overnight at wallyworld, we'd never have to step foot in the parking lot, right?

I'm trying to imagine the setbacks. If our moho were to break down, we'd need to stay in a hotel for repairs. Maybe the $ we'd save in gas could be set aside for this?

I think one big question is~ are these hard to work on? Can you generally find a repair shop for them wherever you go?

It seems like it would be cheaper to get a motorhome & tow our current vehicle, less gas & one less insurance policy. What am I overlooking?

Thanks for any input!
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Old 07-14-2006, 10:42 AM   #2
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1996 25' Excella
southern , Illinois
Join Date: May 2006
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Another question I have.. will it cost more to buy a motorhome than it would be to buy a trailer & tow vehicle of "equal" function/quality? I know there are so many variables... but still wondering. Thanks!
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Old 07-14-2006, 10:48 AM   #3
Frank S
1973 27' Overlander
peoria , Illinois
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Hi ~flutterbee~ Before you decide motor home or trailer ask your self a few questions about how you are going to travel. On the move every day or two, a motor home is best. Set up in one place for a week or more, trailer is best. A motor home is really a big truck. When something breaks, or you need to replace 6-tires, big bucks. It also can't be used as a daily driver, so you end up parking a depreciating asset. A used A/S trailer will retain a greater % of value over time, and tow vehicle can be a daily driver, and replaced as needed.--Frank S
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Old 07-14-2006, 10:52 AM   #4
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Some people like the convenience of being able to ask the co-pilot to prepare a sandwich while they continue driving, and the be able to avail themselves of the necessary facilities without having to stop. Also, a single vehicle is usually easier to back into position when parking at the campground.
We have thought about all this, and have gone with a trailer/tow vehicle. If the tow vehicle breaks down, or is in a accident, chances are you will not lose your camper in the process like you would a motor home. Also, you can upgrade your tow vehicle any time, without changing your camper. A friend of ours just purchased a motorhome, and the insurance on it was as much as the insurance on her brand-new car. You would also have another drivetrain to maintain, and a motorhome costs more to license than a trailer in most states.
To make a long story even longer, there is no real "one right choice". whichever works for you best, is a decision only you can make. There are good and bad points to either choice.
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Old 07-14-2006, 10:56 AM   #5
Frank S
1973 27' Overlander
peoria , Illinois
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Hi ~flutterbee~ The best value and utility, in my opinion would be a 3/4 ton window van, with a 5.3 to 6.0 ltr V8, and a 27' or shorter used A/S.--Frank S
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Old 07-14-2006, 11:12 AM   #6
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Have you seen this poll?

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Old 07-14-2006, 12:12 PM   #7
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1966 26' Overlander
Woodstock , Georgia
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after 5 years of Classic Motorhome ownership, I sold it and bought a truck/trailer combo. I loved the moho! Put many hours of sweat into making it a fine ride. Also put about 25000 miles on it, mostly trouble free.
So why the change? I felt like having a truck I could use as a driver would be a good thing, and having an RV that I can winterize and leave alone when that season comes would be a benefit. I was always out driving , charging, cleaning, and so on with the mh even when it was out of use for a few months. The trailer will require less of my time...I think.
So its a toss up --- your needs and wants vs what makes sense for you. Anyway its an Airstream of some type for us...the quality and the fellowship of those we have met is too much to give up.
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Old 07-14-2006, 12:48 PM   #8
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1978 24' Argosy 24
Woodinville , Washington
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We went through this process. I think the big question is how much you'll use it. Most things work better when they're regularly used. Since a MH has more systems I think this is even more true. If it sits for extended periods you're like to go out and be faced with dead batteries, bad fuel and a host of little things (water pump, alternator, etc.) that are trip breakers. As far as "investment" older MHs go for cheap. So, if you find one in good condition they are quite the bargin. If you want the reliablity of a newer model then you're going to be hit with significant depreciation. And as pointed out ownership cost for the MH can be much higher when it comes to licencing, insurance and maintenance.

The "get in and go" factor is very appealing. However, if you're talking about having to hook up a vehicle with a tow dolly that sounds like more work than hitching up a TT. I suspect milage and operating costs on the MH are going to more than offset any savings of driving a Toyota vs. bopping around in a 3/4 ton TV unless you're talking about 100s of miles on the TOAD very time you set up base camp.

If we replace our TV I'd like to get a conversion van or maybe a Class B. Then we've go the option of taking just the small rig for weekend blasts or dragging the mobil mansion for longer adventures. For us the added and more flexible sleeping arrangements would be nice too (ie. kid(s) in the van and ma-n-pa in the TT)


PS I've also heard that being towed can be harder on a vehicle than driving it. Don't know how much truth there is to that but there are certainly a whole host of things you need to be aware of for proper towing of your car behind the MH.
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Old 07-14-2006, 01:01 PM   #9
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My thoughts.....

Isn't it all about the rivets???? (plus all that shiny aluminum )
It's the rivets!!!!!
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Old 07-14-2006, 01:18 PM   #10
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1996 25' Excella
southern , Illinois
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Posts: 36
Thanks for all of the input! Some great points have been raised. I really appreciate it.

We're going to be FTing, and plan to spend a few months at a time in 3 different areas of the country... and hoping to fill in the gaps w/some real touring. We've got a toddler.... another big factor.
We were planning on getting the tv/trailer which my husband would drive & I would drive the corolla. We love it so much and love the gas mileage we get. We also plan to work at all of the "stops" along the way & thought it would save $ to have the toyota for commuting. We really thought we had it narrowed down.

Then I happened to see a few BEAUTIFUL motorhomes & my wheels started about that... how nice it would be to ride together & tow the car... have access to the kitchen/bath...

I hadn't thought about what it would do to tow the corolla, at all.

I just have to say that has been such a blessing!

I'm off to read the replies on that poll. Thanks, all! Kelly
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Old 07-14-2006, 01:26 PM   #11
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1956 22' Safari
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If you are only relocating 2-3 times a year, I would say go for the TV/Trailer option. That way you have two vehicles while parked that you can use for work & running around. A set of walky-talkies or a CB will keep you in touch on the road when relocating ~

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Old 07-14-2006, 01:56 PM   #12
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1996 28' Excella
Portland , Oregon
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You mentioned one of the benefits of a MoHo is that you can ride together, so I assume that you'd drive a new Truck/Van pulling the trailer with the toyota following.
If you are going to bring the Corolla just because it gets good mpg, I don't think the savings on gas alone will pencil out.
You need to add up all the costs of all the vehicles, gas, wear and tear, tires, insurance.
I think you'll find that you should get one tow vehicle, one trailer, and sell the corolla. Just make sure that your new tow vehicle will work as an around town vehicle. (surburban not 4 door dually) If you drove one suburban that got 20mpg (w/o the trailer of course) and the Corolla gets 33 mpg doing the same driving, the savings in gas doesn't outweigh the cost of owning the vehicle. Just figure on spending as much on ancilary items (tires, wipers, oil, insurance, etc.) as you spend on gas. It doesn't pencil out.
I did this when I owned a truck that got 13 mpg and I bought a diesel dasher that got 40 mpg to drive to work. It was still cheaper to drive the truck to work every day than it was to own two vehicles, all things considered.
I also thought the fact that my MoHo gets 8mpg would kill the idea of it making sense- but it doesn't; even at $3.00 / gal. for gas.

I had a big concern about the MoHo breaking down, but in reality, it's a Chevy chassis powered by a 454 Chevy engine, and the availability of parts and mechanics are the most wide spread make of anything in the US. I think 1/2 of the population knows how to work on the drive train.

If you went with the MoHo, if you break down, you drive the Corolla to the Hotel.

I think purpose and usage are more important factors to consider than depreciation, gas mileage, and insurance. My MoHo was about the same price as a similar length/vintage/options travel trailer, but you get so much more with the MoHo just in equipment. But for sure there's more maintainence with a MoHo than a trailer.

Get some quotes on RV insurance. Mine was super cheap, and I opted for the towing insurance, because I know how expensive that can be.

I would lay out every option with all things considered. How often you move the RV is a big factor. if you only move it 3x a year, go with a trailer and 1 sensible tow vehicle that will do everything for you. Maybe a 4 door Tundra? - if you love Toyotas.

My $.02

1996 Airstream Excella 28'
2007 GMC Duramax 4x4 CCSB
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Old 07-14-2006, 03:39 PM   #13
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1965 20' Globetrotter
Calgary , Alberta
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 21
MH vs Trailer


my toughts are:

I started with a chep tent trailer, which we liked so much but one rainy day gave me the idea of an "upgrade".

So, I had and Idea. Buy a MH so we can go everywhere, all together, is gonna be so much fun......

I bought an older Barth C Class, with only 40,000 miles and evething in working condition and interior extremely well preserved, so it was the perfect MH. not to big, a Chevy 350 in it, aluminum body, A/C, 3-way fridge, AC generator, toilet/shower, furnace, slept 6. anyway, the works.
we used it a few times and it was great.

after a while......

tires - expensive
insurance - more than a trailer
maintenance - expensive
travelling all together... no way, we needed a car to do site sigthing, to hevy for the MH and it increased the gas comsuption by a lot.
Fuel economy: SAD, 7 or 8 MPG

at the end, eventhough it was a great MH and nice at decided to buy a trailer and sell the MH.
pros: we travel all together in the Jeep, fuel economy better in the 4.7 V8 even towing a trailer, Insurance is cheaper, if anything breaks in the trailer is gonna be cheaper to fix than if you fuel pump goes or the belt snaps or an oil change etc. Also, last but not least the AS looks way too cool.

any way, that's my humble opinion. for now, a trailer is good for me.

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Old 07-14-2006, 05:10 PM   #14
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1984 28' Funeral Coach
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Opinions are like...noses....everybody has one! Some folks have more than one...opinion.
I was kinda wondering if the poll posted raised the ire of any of the scientific folks?
Why did you choose one over the other: travel trailer or motorhome?
Better mpg with tow vehicle
Easier to set up camp
smaller vehicle available for "around the town" driving

Are any of these questions two sided? Seems only a TT person could answer.
MY MoHo is a daily driver! The statements regarding cost of ownership are moot. If you want a MoHo get one, and vise versa.
Traveling with a small economical toad is the way to go when you're in one place a longer time... IMOHO.
Getting to the destination and then having to run around with a mamoth TV is not my idea of economy.
But hey that's why they made both!
Glen Coombe AIR #8416
1984 28' Funeral Coach
Former Rolling Showroom & PuttLab (now party bus)
"I'm not an expert. But I did sleep in an Airstream last night."
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Old 07-14-2006, 08:48 PM   #15
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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Great question with lots of answers. I think it comes down to how well a floorplan and the planned use for the RV fit your lifestyle. Take a look at both and compare. This is very much a personal decision and one based on your needs and abilities along with a good dose of what you really want. I do think it's a bit of a preference thing. Some people are motorhome people and some are trailer people - either way you're still in an Airstream

I've not owned a trailer so all I can do is tell you about our experiences with the motorhome and why we ended up with it.

We have three kids and opted for the motorhome to make about three long trips per year (1000+ miles each way). It is absolutely the most comfortable way to travel with all of the convienances of home available while traveling at 60 mph. I'm a "driver" so when I get behind the wheel I turn into my father and want to make good time. The motorhome helps me in this regard as with an 80 gallon tank and a rolling bathroom, kitchen, dinette, LCD screen, DVD player and Playstation onboard. we don't need to stop very often.

In addition to these long trips, we also use it for local camping about once or twice a month; mostly overnight trips and it works fine for that as well. Pull in, un-hitch the TOAD, back into the spot, flip on the levelers and roll out the awning - within 10 minutes - we're camping! I also really enjoy explaining to other campers that "it's an Airstream" and "Yes, they did make motorhomes for a while".

We thought pretty hard about a TT but decided to try out Class C rental for a week just to see what it would be like. (I highly recommend trying a motorhome this way.) It only took about 250 miles for my wife to decide a motorhome was for us. Being able to getup and make PB&Js or help with a potty break or the million other things she does while we're on a long trip without stopping made a huge difference for everyone on board. And overnights enroute mean you don't even need to get out of the MoHo.

We recently added a lightweight TOAD to pull behind the motorhome. It has made it an even better platform for our needs. I give us the flexibility to travel easily from the "mother ship" wherever we end up. I've been known to find a Starbucks and head out to bring some "home".

As far as maintenance and breaking down. Honestly, we've had our fair share of it. Most of the Classic are 20+ years old and need care and attention. Ours was what could only be called a basket case when we bought it. It took a while to make it reliable and for me to learn about all of the systems, but we got it for a song and even with the investments we've made in repairs and upgrades, we're in a good place with it. (Think boat ownership). The TOAD concept also comes in handy on these occasions when the Airstream needs a part (or just a rest). We now refer to our TOAD as the LEM (Lunar Escape Module) so my wife and the kids can go sightseeing while Dad fixes the Airstream.

Even with their age, they are on very common, inexpensive platforms (Chevy P30) which as someone already pointed out have cheap parts and lot's of mechanics qualified to work on them. If you're even remotely handy you can fix most items yourself with the right information and some patience. If you need a mechanic to check your oil then a Classic Motorhome may not be a good fit for you.

If you're FT you are going to want as much space and storage as possible. Our 345 is bascially the same as a 34' TT (without the dinette in the nose). I would not say any of the Classic have a lot of storage, but as with most Class A's they were built for full timers. Our 345 for example gives us two distinct "zones" seperated by the bath...the kid are up front and we're in the back (unless we're underway ). Space is good - very good in fact. I would imagine that a trailer would have better interior space utililzation, but the motorhomes do have a few exterior lockers for things that don't belong inside anyway.

Regarding economy - Since you'll need space you'll need a long Airstream. I can't imagine a truck with a 454 pulling a 34' TT with another car behind it will cost less to own/operate than a truck with a 454 and a 34' TT "bolted to it" would.

Lastly, price. You can get some pretty good deals on MoHo's right now as gas prices are what they are. Let's say 20K for a decent 345 out the door. Plan on spending another 5K on repairs, fixes and upgrades in the first year, Less in the second and so on. Insurance on our RV is less than on our 96 Jeep. Every time I think it's too expensive to keep using it I do the math. It's still the cheapest way for us to travel the way we do.

We love our motorhome and can't imagine it any other way. IMHO.
Steven Webster
1986 Airstream 345 Classic Motorhome
AIR 1760
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